What does life look like for the average 19 year old?
Presumably, for most 19 year olds, it involves going out most weekends. Accepting a shot of vodka, shrugging your shoulders and going, “I’ll regret it in the morning, but I’m young.”
Presumably, for most 19 year olds, it means going to bed after midnight and waking up past 9. You probably live at home (if you live in Sydney this could last until you’re 30).
Most 19 year olds aren’t fantasising about growing a human inside them, birthing that human and raising that human. But I am.
Not even a year ago I was in the “probably going to be childless” camp.
“I’m a career woman,” I told myself. “I won’t have time for children. My career will be my baby.”
Babies crying in malls and cafes annoy me to no end. That scream of definace when deprived of an icecream makes me want to drive my head into a brick wall.
This all changed for me recently. I’ve gone from one extreme to another. Now I’m desperate to start my own family.
It all started late last year when a friend of mine got pregnant. Of course I was excited but I didn’t immediately start craving a family. I remember looking at her, sitting cross legged on the leather couch in a windcheater and thinking, “there’s something growing inside her.” The bump hadn’t popped yet and it all felt a bit surreal.
The bump started to grow. Everytime I saw her I was in awe of the subtle changes to her belly. Those precious few cells had multiplied. A sperm and an egg had created a being that was growing and developing inside my friend. I had never considered the enormity of that reality before. I had never considered how amazing the process of pregnancy and birth truly is.
My friend moved to Sydney in her third trimester. We started seeing more of eachother. I loved watching that belly grow and change. But most of all, I loved feeling the baby move. Feeling the baby kick against my hand made it all so real. The baby wasn’t just an idea or a belly anymore. The baby was moving and changing and developing.
I wasn’t just watching a baby grow. I was watching a woman become a mother. I was watching two bodies evolve together in the most intimate way. As Mum’s belly grew, so did her beauty.
There is nothing more beautiful to me than a pregnant woman.
I found myself becoming fiercely protective. I wanted to make sure what I made was safe for her and the baby to eat. I was careful and delicate when I touched her tummy, out of fear I would cause unintentional harm.
I’d never ventured into the baby clothes isle at Target before. Now when we’re at the mall my partner actively has to stear me away or ban me from entering altogether. I can’t control myself. The onesies, the toys, the swaddles. There’s only so much one can take.
We got a call one Friday morning. The baby had been born. Mum and bub were safe. Sleepy but well.
The next day we went to see the new family. I was tentative. I didn’t know what to expect. Should I be here? Will I disrupt Mum and bub? Should I bring anything? Will baby even like me? What will she look like?
I walked down the white-washed hospital hallway making as little noise as possible. Dad came and opened the doors. He pulled back the curtain and there she was, snuggled to Mum’s chest.
My breath disappeared from my lungs. She was curled up like a koala. Vulnerable, pink and utterly beautiful.
I was fortunate enough to hold her. Her eyes were closed against the bright flurescent hospital lights. She was swaddled in a pink and yellow hospital blanket, sleeping soundly in my arms.
She had been kicking in the womb not even 48 hours ago. She was tumbling around in amniotic fluid. She couldn’t cry or suckle. She couldn’t see. But now she could.
How incredible to see a human grow another human. How incredible to watch a baby reach for its mother’s breast instinctively.
I didn’t want to tear my eyes off her. She was so peaceful and content, wrapped in a blanket making tiny sqeaking noises and sleeping soundly without a care in the world.
Now she is growing and developing. She’s kicking and smiling and opening her eyes wide. She’s giggling and gurgling, doing all the things babies do.
I look forward to seeing her. I miss her throughout the week and I’m fortunate that bub’s Mum and Dad keep us updated with photos and videos. It makes my day seeing that cheeky smile.
Before I started primary school, I had a family of Baby Borns. I was utterly obsessed. My Baby Borns went everywhere with me. I fed them and cradled them and put them on their potty. Forget Barbies and Bratz. Baby Borns were it for me.
My Dad loves to tell the story about one summer afternoon in the park across the road. I was not even four, dressed in a yellow dress with pink flowers and a Baby Born in hand. I sat down, lifted up my dress, and put the Baby Born to my nipple.
“What are you doing, Sophia?”
“I’m breastfeeding, Daddy,” I said plainly.
I was breastfeeding my plastic Baby Born. At 4 years old.
Maybe that’s an indication that I’ve always wanted to be a Mum. That urge got lost for a while there. But it’s well and truly revived.
Now is not the right time for me to have a baby. I’m at university. I’m not financially secure. I still feel like a child myself. But there’s a part of me that’s itching to have a family of my own and hold my own baby in my arms.